While mediating a Massachusetts divorce helps in almost all circumstances,there are a handful of red flags that may lead you to skip the mediation sessions and head straight for divorce court.
1. There’s So Much Animosity, You Can’t Talk to Each Other
The theory behind mediation is to resolve a conflict. The theory behind litigation? It’s to win. Mediation offers a win/win solution to a problem-you can sort out the details of your split in a cooperative and more cost-effective manner. With litigation through the courts, someone wins and someone loses. But if a couple has zero interest in working things out or coming to a mutual agreement on things like shared assets or custody, mediation is unlikely to be successful. If there’s so much anger, you can’t discuss problems productively, mediation will be tougher.
2. There’s a History of Drug or Alcohol Abuse or Domestic Violence
If someone is actively using drugs or alcohol, it can cause difficulty when it comes to mediation. That person may not be in the frame of mind to negotiate logically. A history of domestic violence that occurred prior to the breakup (or a victim who is afraid to negotiate) is another obstacle to mediation, especially if there’s a restraining order in place, which prevents parties from meeting together in person. Still, there are work-arounds, but again, the couple has to be comfortable and willing. With a restraining order, for example, a third party can always act as an intermediary to aid in the negotiation.
3. There’s a Mental Health Issue
If there’s a mental health problem that has not been addressed-say, someone with bi-polar disorder who is in the midst of a manic episode and unable to stay focused-mediation is a no go.
4. There’s No Seeing Eye-to-Eye on Custody
If parents don’t agree on a custody plan, they are typically court-ordered into mediation to sort things out. The hope is that they will come to an agreement about a parenting plan for their kids. But when parents dig in their heels and negotiation is impossible, mediation even the court-ordered kind won’t work and a judge has to make the decision.
5. One-or Both-Parties Aren’t Willing to Put in the Time Needed to Sort Things Out
Mediation takes time-it’s more of a journey to figure things out than a race to sign on the dotted line and move on. If a couple isn’t willing to devote the time, mediation probably isn’t the best route to take.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a consultation. Sliding scale fees are available for parties wishing to mediate.